High Definition Sound

Hi, wondered if DCS would mind me adding a speaker’s related question? I’m running a DCS Bartok with a Vitus SIA-025 Amp. It’s a lovely setup, the speakers I have sound nice and warm although lack resolution and accuracy so am thinking of replacing them to something more at the level of the source.

I listened to a pair of Minos by Vimberg who are a sister company to Tidal, they have a ceramic top and mid driver, they are ultra high resolution by the standards of anything I’ve heard before although they did deploy a Rossini in the mix which I suspect was a big factor, I also listened to an Avalon PM2 which was not quite as high res (in my opinion), maybe a bit smoother on the bass, possibly sounded a little more familiar.

I’m wondering if anyone else has any thoughts on ceramic drivers, are they a higher definition and take a bit of getting used to in the same way a higher definition Dac might? Or are they just different, like a tube amp is often warmer and you probably might like this but maybe not?

Are harder materials in drivers ultimately going to be a higher resolution in the same way that a better Dac or cables gives higher Res or is this last part of the chain more subjective?

Many Thanks

It is not possible to predict how a speaker will sound just from isolating a single element from the numerous technologies it incorporates. Ceramic drivers may, in the right circumstances, deliver high resolution sound ( though how one defines that factor precisely is open to question). Misused by the designer they may not. Other driver cone technologies can also deliver high resolution sound ranging from doped silk to carbon fibre to metal to woven fibres etc. Some are hard materials, some soft. None has a monopoly of the property so long as they can maintain close to pistonic behaviour across the bandwidth that they serve.

Your posting suggests to me that you have heard a speaker, were impressed by its boasts but actually didn’t really like it. Hence the reference to a potential need to " get used" to it. Don’t confuse excessive detail rendition for resolution. A good speaker will sound close to real life and you don’t, I hope, need to get used to the sound of real life.

Of the best few speakers that I have ever heard ( and in over half a century in this hobby I have heard an awful lot) one pair was actually made in 1926 ( heard in 2013)! The other pair was made in 2013 using brand new drivers but the main ones (bass to upper mid) were designed and in production by the middle of the last century. So much for new technology. Yes of course things do progress but speaker design is often two steps forward and one step back. Just look at all of the so called speaker improvements which turned out to only be novelties in the end . Not that I am implying that ceramic drivers are of this nature but I suggest you find a speaker that you like the sound of and will work in your room with your amplification first. Be mildly interested in what technology the designer used later.

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More so than the source, it’s probably more important to focus on the coupling between your Amp and those speakers?

For just over a decade now, my main speakers have been a pair of Kharma Exquisites, which have a pair of (custom) Accuton drivers - a Diamond tweeter and Ceramic mid-range. They’re very fast, dynamic, with pin-point sound staging, and resolve like crazy (when compared to more traditional dynamic driver cone material).

Those characteristics though also makes the speakers rather sensitive to the type of Amp coupled to them. I used to own a pair of Boulder 2000-series solid-state monoblocks, but was never really happy with the system sound until I swapped them out for Tube SETs, and eventually to Tube Hybrids (all with dCS source).

You should definitely home audition those Minos with your Vitus. With the Vitus’ ultra-wide bandwidth, it just might be “too much of a good thing” :wink:

And that is interesting considering your preference for tube amplification over SS with a speaker having a nominal impedance of 4 ohms. I cannot find impedance graphs for any of the Exquisite range but I am sure that they will not have a linear 4 ohm characteristic across their frequency range. I am also sure that the SETs will have had a high output impedance and that there is a high chance of a similar characteristic with your push-pull tubes , at least in comparison with the Boulder SS with its very low output impedance.

So I would expect a Kharma and Boulder combination to appear far preferable on paper thanks to Ohm’s law than that of a Kharma/tube amp one. Yet you prefer the latter. I would say that if that is your preference then within your context it must also be correct . But it also supports the primacy of practical experience over theory.

Totally hear you both, and think these are enlightening points.

Fast and responsive is spot on, that’s exactly their quality and I hear that same quality in other speakers using similar drivers. Had the speakers demonstrated on a class AB slightly lower spec Vitus, mine is class A which is marginally warmer or smoother?

I’m wondering did that Accutons bed in, did a bit of that brightness soften off or are they just fast?

I don’t know the Kharma Exquisite but I can see it’s is a very high-end product, the speaker is laminated and pocketed out with complex internal shapes rather than built-out of 6 slabs of 25mm MDF with holes in. I can see the bass and mid are effectively separated, each with their own chamber. You only get that sort of build once you are over way over 50k, anything below that generally more box-like, all be it a very sophisticated braced box.

I guess I’m wondering do speakers not have the same pace of development as a DAC, a modern Rossinni would probably outperform anything from 15 years ago, possibly 10 years, maybe less.

Speakers in the sub 40k price range are more often box-like but with very sophisticated drivers and crossovers, would it be with looking at units that are 10 years old that are much more solid, the solidity of the cabinet seems to link all high-end speakers regardless of what technology is inside. 200kg plus is not unusual.

Or do you think that technology can outperform mass, much like F1 car corners faster than an Indy car;)

Yes on the high-powered SETs, but liquid-mids to die for, though they ultimately left me unsatisfied with the bottom-end. My current Amp is the fantastic Tenor OLT Hybrids with fairly low 0.1 ohm output impedance, I literally haven’t heard a better Amp out there (at any price :slightly_smiling_face:).

Couldn’t agree more. Specs on paper can be an excellent initial guide but it’s not a guarantee to ignite one’s personal sonic magic :slight_smile:

They never really sounded bright even in the beginning, at least not on the Kharmas (likewise not on the Marten Coltrane that I’ve heard extensively). But I’m guessing that’s as much a reflection of the cross-over circuit design as with the driver/cone material.

Technology can fix quite a lot, the Kii Three for example surprised the heck out of me, but ultimately it’ll come down to physics that manufacturers can’t cheat :wink:

Thank you for all your thoughts,

Just for the record, the Vimberg Minos seemed superb machines, the snag is that under normal circumstances you could hear a dozen other speakers in short succession from the same or different brands at an audio show in order to establish a shortlist. I will probably take your advice and wait until we can.

The Avalon was also very good.

Many Thanks